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Combining Information and Law degrees: ‘The two programs really do complement each other incredibly well’

Submitted on Tuesday, July 27, 2021

When Sabrina Macklai began her Master of Information in the fall of 2019, she hadn’t yet committed to doing a combined degree program with the Faculty of Law. “I was interested in law but wasn’t 100% sure,” she says. “I didn’t know if I was well suited for it or ready to make the financial commitment.”

Sabrina Macklai at the Gerstein Science Information Centre

Enrolled in both the Library and Information Science and the Critical Information Policy Studies concentrations, Macklai was also awarded a Toronto Academic Libraries Internship (TALint) at the Gerstein Science Information Centre (photo on the right) in her first year. By starting her graduate school journey with an MI degree, she gave herself a backup plan.

“I was always interested in the theory behind information and scholarly knowledge,” says Macklai, who did her Honours Bachelor’s degree in Integrated Science (iSci) at McMaster. “I was taught science literacy by librarians in iSci so I knew I would have been happy with a similar career path.”

That first year of her Master’s degree not only confirmed that she did indeed want to apply to law but also that her interests very much lay in topics like intellectual property, privacy, surveillance, information commercialization, and technology law. Her courses, including one with Professor Leslie Shade covering knowledge and information in society, “really shaped what I’m now interested in law,” she says.

Macklai applied and was accepted to U of T’s law school during her first year at the Faculty of Information. She started in-person studies there in August 2020 attending the compulsory Legal Methods boot camp, but later all courses moved online as they were at the Faculty of Information for the entire fall term.

Sabrina Macklai at the Faculty of Law buildingMacklai’s first year at the Faculty of Law was entirely devoted to law. “I loved it. A lot of people don’t enjoy first year, so that’s a bit of a controversial thing to say,” she says, adding that she felt the first year of MI studies had prepared her well and given her an edge. “The two programs really do complement each other incredibly well.”

At the end of her first year in law school, Macklai landed a legal internship at the Samuelson-Glushko Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC) at the University of Ottawa’s Centre for Law, Technology and Society. In that role, she has examined the copyright implications of interlibrary loans as well as helped prepare oral arguments for CIPPIC’s Supreme Court intervention in York University v Access Copyright. She attended the hearing’s livestream, which she described as “very cool, with many implications for librarians and educators.”

In the fall, Macklai will return to law school full-time. To complete her MI degree, she will also take one course per term at the Faculty of Information over the next two years.

Despite this intense academic schedule, Macklai has found time to volunteer at Artists’ Legal Advice Services, run the law school’s student newspaper Ultra Vires as a co-Editor-in-Chief, and act as a senior editor for IPilogue, Osgoode Hall Law School’s Online Journal of IP Law and Technology.